The last thing a lot of people think about when it comes to SEO is security, but your site’s search engine optimization is increasingly affected by how secure it is. Let’s look at the ways website security impacts your site’s SEO, brand recognition, and treatment by the search engines. We’ll also address how your site’s SEO is improved by having better web security.
HTTPS vs HTTP
Google started giving HTTPS websites a ranking boost over HTTP sites back in 2014, but the weighting of that secure connection is growing. At that time, around 10% of websites were HTTPS, and it was 30% by 2016. By spring, 2017, around two-thirds of all websites were HTTPS because of Google’s PR efforts.
Google Chrome and other search engines are already warning users if a website for logging in or entering financial information is not HTTPS. The warning is starting to extend to other websites now, and we’re approaching the point where websites that lack HTTPS will disappear from the first page results no matter how good their SEO is. The quality of the content and link building don’t matter if a significant percentage of traffic is scared away by the “this site may be harmful” warning.
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Preventing Hack Attacks
If your site is hacked and customer information is leaked, you face a public relations disaster. Your current customers will be afraid to continue to do business with you, and potential clients will be scared away when they learn of the leak. You can prevent this problem by using scanning tools and hosting your site with companies that maintain the utmost IT security. Conversely, if your site is regularly compromised, it will be placed on blacklists that prevent students and corporate employees from visiting it.
The compromises don’t have to be major to hurt your website. A disabled firewall and digital defacement with some stupid joke will result in bad press for your company, and customers will wonder what else was left unprotected. Then there’s the impact of all the negative mentions on social media interfering with your SEO and social media outreach.
Verified Ownership of Your Website
Verifying ownership of your website with Google search console (previously Webmaster tools) lets you receive notifications about security issues and site performance, troubleshoot SEO problems and understand your site’s SEO performance overall. This is why your SEO strategy needs to include verifying your site’s ownership with Google. In 2015, there was a trend of black hat SEO firms trying to verify accounts as owners of compromised sites.
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Google can’t catch all of these scammers because third party SEO service providers may be listed as full owners while they work on the site. If these scammers can verify ownership, then they can add their spammy content or malware to the site. Their addition of spammy elements like ads for their sites hurts your site’s search engine results page placement. If you struggled with hack attacks in the past or want to prevent them in the future, companies like Click Intelligence can help resolve problems like this.
If your website isn’t HTTPS, it is already ranking lower than it could, and soon the bounce rate by those scared away by Google’s security warnings will tank your SEO.
DDoS attacks are increasing, calculate the cost and probability of a DDoS attack on your business with this DDoS Downtime Cost Calculator.